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"Nuclear Archaeology" Inspires Replica of Hiroshima's Little Boy

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the sobering-and-more dept.

Hardware Hacking 298

James Cho writes "Through a decade of painstaking reverse engineering, trucker John Coster-Mullen built the first accurate replica of the Hiroshima bomb. His work yielded a new history of the first nukes, 'Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man,' with historian Robert Norris saying, 'Nothing else in the Manhattan Project literature comes close.' Philip Morrison, one of the physicists who helped invent the bomb, deemed it 'a remarkable job.'"

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First homebrew nuke (3, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600093)

*BOOM*

Notice to Sourceforge: Kill off Slashdot! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600105)

A much better website: http://www.madonna.com

Notice to Sourceforge, Inc. management: Close down Slashdot, sell the domain to a squatter, and focus on your core competency: Sourceforge. It needs a lot of work.

Slashdot no longer serves a unique purpose. The forum is a mess of buggy AJAX, it is irrelevant, the editors have no talent, and the news sucks!

News for Nerds. Stuff That Matters. NOT!

It's not news, it's not written by journalists and it's not stuff that matters. The only true part about their tagline is that it's for nerds. Stupid ones. Ones who are probably wearing some lame t-shirt from ThinkGeek with a stupid expression like "All your haXoRz are belong to us."

This thread about the 2.4.18 kernel release is a typical Slashdot news item. Idiocy, misinformation, testosterone-poisoned posturing, technology punditry, arrogance, bad logic: just another day in Slashdot-land.

The classic exchange is one Slashdotter complaining about ACs (people posting as Anonymous Cowards, i.e., not registered) and another Slashdotter blasting him for being so stupid and then outlining the steps need to get a for-all-intents-and-purposes anonymous Hotmail account and registering on Slashdot with a bogus name.
Lame personalities

Some of the Slashdot people have personality cults which is weird because they are incredibly lame. Every single poll seems to have a reference to a character named CowboyNeal. One of the founders/editors, Rob Malda, goes by the handle CmdrTaco, and his posts are incredibly shallow and stupid (although admittedly not much more than those of the other editors).

Every Slashdot-hater will claim to have a particularly dark place in their hearts for a certain individual, but frankly, they're all about the same. I ran into them in the Linux pavilion of Comdex a couple of years ago and they're a truly sorry bunch of humans. Just more proof that if you had the choice to be smart or lucky, you're much better off being lucky.
The problem with online forums: Why Slashdot isn't different than the rest

Admittedly, Slashdot's lameness isn't unique. As a matter of fact, it's normal. The main problem with online communities is that they do not scale well. While engineers argue about whether or not MySQL-backed sites can handle significant traffic, etc., they are really missing the point. Even if the software can handle it, the community can't.

Throwing more hardware at it doesn't help the problem. Nor does throwing more software. Nor does throwing more moderation. Nor does adding big warning messages to "please search the archives before posting a question." People get tired of hearing the same old questions over and over. What was once a place where new and innovative discussions sprang up every day is now a place where the same ten questions get asked over and over. Many of the most valuable contributors are the first to leave, just like talented employees bailing out of a foundering corporation.

The only hope is to pick a topic that is so esoteric that growth is extremely limited. Splitting up a community into sub-communities is also a possibility, but one that doesn't always work. If done too late, the majority of the most valuable contributors will have already left. Splitting a big blob of noise will result in many little blobs of noise. If done too early, there might not be sufficient energy/critical mass to nurture the newly-founded subcommunities.
What makes FC different?

The, uh, community citizens at F---edCompany.com contribute about the same quality of knowledge as your average forum participant, but unlike Slashdotters, A.) they aren't as arrogant, B.) they all seem to realize where they're posting (i.e., after all, the website is called F---edCompany.com), and C.) Pud (the founder/editor) knows he's a lucky idiot.
The very worst part about online forums

For the newcomer, a vibrant, high-traffic online forum seems like the El Dorado of information. It's not. It's a Pandora's Box, but even worse. The biggest single problem about online forums is the amount of incorrect information being provided. For the average newbie, there is absolutely no way to tell who is telling the truth. Veteran status doesn't count, nor does his/her post count (i.e., someone with 3000+ posts isn't any more credible than someone with 150 posts).

Many online forums have an "Off Topic" posting area so specific forums don't get watered down with unrelated issues. These places are very, very dangerous. These are places where opinions are offered, often backed by little/bad/no facts. While it's one things to ask people in a photography forum about cameras, it's another thing to ask a bunch of DVD aficionados about income tax law.

The saddest thing is that people apparently believe that soliciting the thoughts of total strangers on serious topics such as personal bankruptcy, medical procedure issues, dealing with troubled children, etc. is normal on these relatively anonymous online forums.
Can you do anything about misinformation?

No, not really. For every one or two people with actual knowledge, there are dozens of people with no/little/bad knowledge.

If you refute someone, you will get a dozen people saying, "but I do _____ and it works for me" or the indignant "leave _____ alone, his answer is just as good as the next person's!" It's pointless to argue online. Unlike real life, everyone's opinion counts online. People will hear what they want to hear, and mostly it's their own voice (or other people telling them that they agree).
Me, me, me!

This thread about good web design (again, a non-newsworthy item) is pretty much the perfect example of the "My voice is just as loud and therefore just as authoritative as anyone else's" train of thought.

Go ahead, read the comments. An abnormally large number of them are actually thoughtfully written, only to be lost in the maelstrom of "Listen to me!! Listen to me!!" Sad, truly sad.

Re:Notice to Sourceforge: Kill off Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600755)

You sir or ma'am, are either the best practicing troll ever or a non-troll just tired of changes you've seen at slashdot over the years.

Either way, this is the best troll post I've ever seen. It actually stung me (as a slashdot regular) in a of couple places, and I've grown very cynical of taking anything I see here with any emotional context at all, kudos!

One piece of advice, if you're an actual troll trying a new technique, you've hit the jackpot, just shorten it up a bit and you'll be a legend (well, an anonymous legend, but hey, whaddya expect).

Re:Notice to Sourceforge: Kill off Slashdot! (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600799)

Yeah, I wouldn't really mod this as troll, more like off-topic...

Re:Notice to Sourceforge: Kill off Slashdot! (0)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600891)

That's not even close to a good troll. Like someone running a business is going to take an anonymous comment from a message board seriously and just start laying people off and shutting servers down.

Get real.

Re:First homebrew nuke (5, Funny)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600507)

Hopefully not that accurate.

How soon until... (5, Insightful)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600125)

How soon until homeland security shows up accusing him of terrorism?

Re:How soon until... (4, Insightful)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600159)

If he's built a WORKING replica, I would hope VERY soon!

Re:How soon until... (5, Insightful)

sidb (530400) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600319)

A working replica would be dangerous and surely illegal. It would not be terrorism unless he used it deliberately to terrorize a group of people. Just because something is bad doesn't make it terrorism.

"Most of the time, I'm somebody else's problem" (5, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600499)

A working replica would be dangerous and surely illegal.

If I had a working replica of a nuclear bomb in my basement, I don't think I would give a rat's ass about whether it was dangerous or illegal.

If I did have a nuclear bomb, I would not have a problem.

Some other folks would have a problem.

Re:"Most of the time, I'm somebody else's problem" (1, Offtopic)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600761)

If you decided on being someone else's problem, you'd go to sleep one night and no longer be anybody's problem.

Re:"Most of the time, I'm somebody else's problem" (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601027)

If I did have a nuclear bomb, I would not have a problem.
Some other folks would have a problem.

Said The Mouse that Roared [wikipedia.org] :-)

Re:"Most of the time, I'm somebody else's problem" (2, Insightful)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601051)

Right, because it's a well known scientific fact that those who actually make a bomb are totally immune to the bomb's effects.

Besides, having explosives is not illegal just because you could use them for therrorism, but because accidents happen; accidents which might not only harm yourself (being stupid enough to have a bomb with you, whatever happens, you had it coming), but those around you as well. More so with something as powerful as a nuke.

Re:How soon until... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600639)

I think the law at least in CA says there's $200 fine for detonating one...

Re:How soon until... (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600753)

A quick check of the California Code [ca.gov] for the word 'nuclear' finds that no law along those lines exists on the books, though that doesn't mean that something like it didn't exist before. I suspect the fine would have been far higher, though.

Re:How soon until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601073)

I believe it would be illegal under California Penal Code Sections 12301-12316.

Re:How soon until... (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601121)

Its a municipal code in some town in CA, not a state law.

Re:How soon until... (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601519)

It's also a law in Germany, I think...oh, and of course: Âinsert lame joke about all of us being really, really lucky that Germany didn't have any nukes during WW2.

Re:How soon until... (2, Interesting)

PacoCheezdom (615361) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601129)

Well, it's a little steeper than a fine, but I still think it's pretty funny that there's a state law for this:

11418. (a) (1) Any person, without lawful authority, who possesses, develops, manufactures, produces, transfers, acquires, or retains any weapon of mass destruction, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 8, or 12 years.

(California Penal Code)

Re:How soon until... (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600889)

Just because something is bad doesn't make it terrorism.

Yes of course, but I don't care what it's called, I do not want individuals (or even governments, including my own) to have nuclear weapons. If the thing worked, you could call it "super happy nuclear archeology," and I wouldn't mind just as long as SOMEONE took it away from the guy.

Re:How soon until... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601521)

to add to that, i don't want slashdot readers, or even government slashdot readers to have nuclear weapons... or facebook users, myspace users, cocaine users, but potheads... potheads could come up with a way to strip it down a create a nuclear bong. boooo yah!

Re:How soon until... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600975)

No, it wouldn't be dangerous.

Illegal, sure due to the idiots making the rules, but an inanimate object cant be dangerous on its own.

Re:How soon until... (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601535)

Depends on how well the nuke is built. If it would be leaking radiation, it would be dangerous even though it just stood still in it's place for all the time.

Re:How soon until... (1)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600999)

It would not be terrorism unless he used it deliberately to terrorize a group of people.

Tell that to the people who were arrested by homeland security at any USA airport for saying the word "bomb" after the 9/11...

It is terrorism (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601089)

If the government wants it to be terrorism in order to invoke the removal of your civil rights, then it is terrorism.

Re:How soon until... (1)

pha3r0 (1210530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601405)

Stop the presses! OMG anything dangerous is not terrorism!? That can not be. If he had a working replica, (He Doesn't, and you shouldn't even need to RTA to figure that out.) he clearly built it to destroy the childrenz and make us all fear his aWs0m3 trucking prowess!!!

Now, seriously thank you for pointing out the difference between dangerous and terrorist. So very, very many people have forgotten it.

Re:How soon until... (4, Funny)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600331)

If he's built a WORKING replica, I would hope VERY soon!

Nuclear bombs don't kill people. People kill people. Why shouldn't this guy have a born right to bear nuclear arms? If he wants to defend his property from double-glazing salesman, he should have every right to make use of the second amendment and protect his property!

Re:How soon until... (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600373)

Get off my lawn or I'll nuke you little bastards!

Re:How soon until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600629)

If he's built a WORKING replica, I would hope VERY soon!

Nuclear bombs don't kill people. People kill people. Why shouldn't this guy have a born right to bear nuclear arms? If he wants to defend his property from double-glazing salesman, he should have every right to make use of the second amendment and protect his property!

But you can't give a hug with nuclear arms!

Re:How soon until... (5, Funny)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600691)

But they can make you warm, fuzzy and positively glowing!

Re:How soon until... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600701)

If he wants to defend his property from double-glazing salesman, he should have every right to make use of the second amendment and protect his property!

I think maybe nuclear weapons are not the best way to protect your property.

Re:How soon until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600863)

You liberals are blind to the truth. Open your eyes.

Re:How soon until... (4, Funny)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600711)

You let private citizens have nuclear arms, the next thing you know is they'll sell them to pawn shops and then it's in the hands of gang-bangers nuking 7-Elevens. I've seen the Clerks documentary. I know how these things work.

Re:How soon until... (4, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600897)

It worries me that there is one "insightful" mod on that post.

Re:How soon until... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600901)

"Why shouldn't this guy have a born right to 'bear nuclear arms'?"

Nuclear arming bears is a bad idea. They aren't the most friendly of animals at the best of times and right now providing nukes to Polar Bears is really dangerous. All that swimming from melting ice has made them very testy. Wouldn't want them blowing up Sarah Palin's house in protest........wait a minute!

Re:How soon until... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601255)

I realize this is serious reply to a funny post, but I thought I'd point out the difference between say, a gun, and an atomic weapon in respect to this argument.

Owning a gun is a valid right - partially because it does not threaten another person's life until it gets pointed at another person.

An atomic weapon, on the other hand, is pointed at everyone within the bombs kill radius every moment it remains active. Having a nuclear bomb around is like holding a gun to the head of everyone within several square kilometers, all the time - whether you are deliberately threatening them or not. A simple application of the United States constitution would be to recognize such as a "clear and present danger".

Re:How soon until... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600335)

Keep your friends close, and your ...umm... some citizen closer. If this guy is really smart (and can be trusted), give him a job Lawrence Livermore National Lab or something.

Re:How soon until... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600435)

i guess it depends on what one define as working.

it could be that all the parts (detonators and such) work, but is missing that vital nuclear core.

iirc, fat man was the "cannon" driven uranium bomb...

Re:How soon until... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600519)

iirc, fat man was the "cannon" driven uranium bomb...

Fat Man was the implosion type. Little Boy was the gun type.

Re:How soon until... (3, Informative)

NouberNou (1105915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600535)

Fat Man was the implosion device. It was called Fat Man due to the size of the explosive lenses that were used to compress the Plutonium into a critical mass. Little Boy was the gun-type device.

Re:How soon until... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600625)

ah, silly me. i stand corrected.

Re:How soon until... (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600947)

If he's built a WORKING replica, I would hope VERY soon!

If it's a working replica they might want to stay at least two and a half miles from it.

Re:How soon until... (1)

T5 (308759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601157)

The trick to nuclear weapons is, and will always be, manufacturing of the fuel. Uranium enrichment and plutonium manufacture require enormous budgets, know-how, and persistence. Neutron enhancers like lithium deuteride and tritium in quantity aren't available from Walmart. A country with defensible borders where you can build/hide/lie to the IAEA about your manufacturing and engineering facilities is a plus.

With no disrespect toward the weapons engineers, the rest of the process is exactly that - a process. Make a case, engineer some conventional explosives, create a tightly-timed detonation system for those conventional explosives, add fissile material, and stir. Mix and match for desired effect.

Everything else is tuning. Big, fast computers with lots of thermodynamic models of nuclear designs are a plus - test firings are expensive and frowned upon.

Remember, folks, that we're talking about a nearly 70 year old technology here. Just as the article states, the biggest secret about nukes is that they're just not that hard to make. Big thermonuclear devices that are efficient? Yes, they're much more work. Little fission-only ones for terrorist/tin pot dictator use? With a little help from deep pockets, a relatively attainable goal.

In this vein, one of the smarter things we've done during this War on Terror (tm) is install a lot of radiation detection devices in ports for all types of transportation. At least the obvious transportation routes are covered for the asymmetrical case.

Re:How soon until... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601507)

Bah, just go back to 1985, when they were selling it in every corner drugstore.

Re:How soon until... (1)

finalfrog (1379051) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601239)

As a die-hard Bloom County fan (despite the fact that I was less than a year old when it ended) I feel it necessary to post this [photobucket.com] .

Re:How soon until... (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600211)

According to Amazon, his book was published in 2002. If they were going to lock him up, they've had plenty of time to do so already.

Of course, it's a good thing for him his name is John Coster-Mullen instead of, oh, say, Ahmed al-Rashad. You can pretty much guarantee that in the latter case, even if all the other circumstances were exactly the same, he'd have been disappeared a long time ago.

Re:How soon until... (-1, Flamebait)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600253)

"How soon until homeland security shows up accusing him of terrorism?"

Only if he criticizes Israel and starts to wear a keffiyeh [instructables.com] , no it's not a teatowel [alibaba.com] . Is this more interesting than The web browser is a dead end [slashdot.org]

alternatively... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600805)

The project could also be a deliberate honeypot.

Re:How soon until... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600905)

I bet they already did.

We are out of neo-cons now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601245)

The fear and insanity will subside (I hope).

Atomic John? (1, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600141)

Is my mind just twisted or is there an innuendo of sorts in the fact that the article is titled Atomic John, with a photograph below of the guy in question and a huge atomic phallic substitute seeming to come out of his crotch?

Re:Atomic John? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600155)

It's just you. Really. It is.

Re:Atomic John? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600203)

Seriously.

Re:Atomic John? (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600195)

No, if that were the case, he would have built "Fat Man," the Nagasaki one.

atomic weiner (-1, Offtopic)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600201)

"a huge atomic phallic substitute seeming to come out of his crotch?"

You're not the first to notice the Freudian [nwsource.com] connotations. is this more interesting than this The web browser is a dead end [slashdot.org]

Re:atomic weiner (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600263)

is this more interesting than this The web browser is a dead end

Jesus H. Christ, you're sock-monkeying that link all over the place. The answer clearly is, yes, to a lot of people, whatever story you're posting on is more interesting than that particular journal entry. Deal with it, will you?

Re:atomic weiner (-1, Troll)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600441)

"Jesus H. Christ, you're sock-monkeying that link all over the place. The answer clearly is, yes"

Jeez, excuse me, I thought this place had something to do with current technology. I guess Mad magazine is more appropriate. See CmdrTaco pictured here [beliefnet.com] ..

Re:atomic weiner (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600527)

There are a lot of stories that appear on /. in which I have absolutely no interest. (The same could be said by practically anyone here.) So you know what I do when one of those stories comes up on the front page? I don't click on it. Easy, simple solution -- let the people who do care about that particular story talk about it, and go find something I care about to read and comment on instead. Everybody wins. It's not that hard a concept to grasp.

Re:atomic weiner (1)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600941)

It takes a low ID number to have come to this conclusion I think. Spend enough time anywhere and you're bound to learn the ropes.

Re:atomic weiner (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601047)

Hah, good point. OTOH, I'm pretty sure that even right after I joined Slashdot, I didn't post "Hey, why are you guys talking about X when Y is more important" links all over every single damned story. It's a type of trolling, and like most troll techniques, the reasons for it are, I suspect, kind of inexplicable to anyone who doesn't have that particular compulsion.

something to remind me .. (-1, Offtopic)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600165)

I recall at an anniversary ceremony Tibbets [theenolagay.com] flew over an airfield and dropped a full size replica, now that must have got their attention. Is this more interesting than The web browser is a dead end [slashdot.org]

Re:something to remind me .. (1)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600377)

-1: google bombing

Re:something to remind me .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600587)

Dude, make that thing your signature or you'll forever be modded down.

And, look, it even works... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600167)

Just push this button he

NOT "Reverse Engineering" (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600251)

FR1ST PEDANTIC POST

The guy went through declassified government documents to gather all the information he could find (including design information), and went from there. I don't think this is anything like reverse engineering.

If he "reverse engineered" the bomb, wouldn't it mean he put the design together based on blast data from known explosions of this particular device?

Re:NOT "Reverse Engineering" (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600349)

"Reverse engineering" is a pretty broad phrase. It can mean anything from taking an actual working example of a machine and figuring out how to build it, to the kind of thing you're talking about, observing what a machine does and figuring out how to build something that does the same thing (whether or not the internal mechanism is the same.) I'd say what Coster-Mullen did falls right in the middle of this range, so calling it "reverse engineering" is fair.

FUD, censorship, and freedom. (3, Insightful)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600281)

While many people may exclaim that this information is 'dangerous' to be released in the public domain let me remind you of a few small details.

1) ANY high-school/college student should be able to tell you what the critical mass of U235/238 is.
2) Most handymen should be able to make atleast ONE method of creating a critical mass pile.
3) It takes a GOVERNMENT to build multiple copies and revisions and tests to make it bigger/better.

This information does not mean "the terrorists can now make a bomb!" This changes NOTHING that hasn't been known for 50+ years. I would rather live in a society that does not suffer a knee-jerk reaction everytime something unusual is expressed. If anybody knows if this place exists, let me know; I'll start packing.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (2, Insightful)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600443)

The simple facts are that he (a truck driver!) is collecting detailed information about some of the worlds least efficient nuclear bomb designs. Bombs with the same amount of equal quality fissile material can be made far more powerful. No terrorist orginaization would want to create such wasteful bombs, so the information he is publishing is not very dangerous at all. Besides, a lot of the difficulty in making even an inefficient nuclear bomb at all obtaining the weapons grade fissile material.

Now his material is extremely accurate, coming from both logical analysis which has found inaccuracies in some published records. (Some records include masses of components that imply absurd material densities, so those measurements get discarded), measurements of the actual shell casings, and leaked information from those who actually built those bombs. Most of those people are customers of his book, and have publicly stated that very very few of his details remain inaccurate.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (2, Insightful)

NouberNou (1105915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600579)

No terrorist orginaization would want to create such wasteful bombs, so the information he is publishing is not very dangerous at all.

You seriously think that a terrorist organization would NOT take any sort of nuclear weapon?

Little Boy and Fat Man were in the 13-20 kiloton range. More than enough to kill a few hundred thousand people in a dense urban target like New York or LA or any other major American city!

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601149)

No terrorist orginaization would want to create such wasteful bombs, so the information he is publishing is not very dangerous at all.

You seriously think that a terrorist organization would NOT take any sort of nuclear weapon?

You don't understand terrorism. All you need to create terror and cause chaos and evacuations is a bomb that is just dirty enough to make a geiger counter click somewhat above background rate in front of a TV camera. Heck a granite countertop would probably do (they are quite radioactive). Although potassium based salt substitute (also quite radioactive) is scarier looking. One "real bomb" might destroy a city. But ten thousand hand grenades detonated in the ten thousand largest cities all going clicky clicky on camera is way more effective at generating terror.

The proof that there is no real terrorist threat, and the whole terrorist threat thing is the equivalent of government conspiracy theory daydreams, is that something this simple and easy has never happened despite ex-communist countries being awash in rad-waste free for the pickings, small IEDs are not apparently too hard to find either, add a roll of duct tape, and instant celebrity.

It doesn't matter if you actually destroy the city or not, all you need to do is make the residents act like it's another Katrina (except its even scarier because its "nuclear") and you've won. Prodding the sheep won't be too hard, with the media's help.

That is why a terrorist organization (assuming such a thing even exists) would never be so "wasteful" as to make a traditional a-bomb, when they could make ten thousand dirty hand grenades using the same stuff.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (1)

NouberNou (1105915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601363)

Thats not what the GP was referring to at all. He made it seem like a terrorist organization would rather build a B-61 or some other more advanced nuclear weapon than a design like Little Boy or Fat Man. Any organization seeking to acquire a real nuclear weapon would take a relatively inferior design than nothing at all.

You are right in your point though, the wouldn't even seek a full blown nuclear weapon unless it was very easy to get. A dirty bomb would be much more efficient.

On the other hand if I was Osama and I had the choice between a dirty bomb and a readily available bomb of Little Boys capabilities I think the decision would be a very easy one.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601303)

You seriously think that a terrorist organization would NOT take any sort of nuclear weapon?

The goal of terrorists is to create terror. Some terrorists will do this using fake bombs or simply the threat of bombs. There are also terrorists who don't use any kind of bombs. Even terrorists who do use actual bombs may be more interested in getting fairly small bombs very close to specific people (or groups of people).
Someone like Ted Kaczynski may well say "no" even if offered a fully working Trident D5. Someone like Timothy McVeigh might be more interested...

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (4, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600739)


Besides, a lot of the difficulty in making even an inefficient nuclear bomb at all obtaining the weapons grade fissile material.

I'd say that the vast majority of the difficulty is obtaining the fissile material. Weapons grade uranium/plutonium doesn't exactly grow on trees. Creating it yourself (and preventing anyone from stopping you) takes the power of a government.

This has essentially been the policy to control proliferation for 60 years now. Stopping the knowledge of the design details is merely security theater.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601169)

Weapons grade uranium/plutonium doesn't exactly grow on trees

Unless you live near 3 Mile Island!

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600877)

The simple facts are that he (a truck driver!) is collecting detailed information about some of the worlds least efficient nuclear bomb designs.

Besides, a lot of the difficulty in making even an inefficient nuclear bomb at all obtaining the weapons grade fissile material.

Maybe a better way to summarize his work vs "the real thing" would be a different analogy:

It's like comparing a guy who enjoys collecting pr0n vs actually reproducing with a supermodel.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600989)

No terrorist orginaization would want to create such wasteful bombs

Article said it required about eight times critical mass. That's not bad for something you don't need to test first. Besides the design was good enough for the US to make first. Keep in mind that if you are committed to the terrorist act of blowing up an innocent city with a fission bomb, then you've divorced yourself from usual considerations of efficiency.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (1)

T5 (308759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601203)

No terrorist orginaization would want to create such wasteful bombs, so the information he is publishing is not very dangerous at all.

Dead wrong. Any sufficiently funded terrorist organization is the only market for such an antiquated device. No government would want to field one of these (N. Korea excepted), but any terrorist/extremist group would give their last item of worth for just one of these. Terror does not require efficiency.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (4, Informative)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600561)

Assembling the bomb is not the difficult part. A gun-triggered uranium bomb mechanism, which is the simplest and least effecient, is relatively easy to built. The material, on the other hand, is a bit difficult. A critical mass sized assembly of u-235 requires gathering a lot of uranium ore, processing it to chemically pure uranium, converting the uranium into uranium-hexaflouride, a very corrosive gas that must be made using fluorine. Then the gas must be pumped through miles of special diffusion piping many times until it is isotropically enriched to 95%+ U-235. Alternatively, it can be pumped through a cascade of high speed drum gas centrifuges. Both methods require enormous industrial facilities.

OR, you could go with creating plutonium using large reactors and chemical separation plants.

Either way is going to be a big project. Even nation states take a good few years to get this going from nothing.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (1)

gfody (514448) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601035)

..or you could just steal the 99.997% pure plutonium from a low security gov research lab

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601595)

..or have the Libyans steal it for you.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601185)

OR you could build it and it/they (the core) will come!

THEY WILL COME!!!

If your cause is good enough (in the eyes of those that have the core.)

BOOM.. DAM THAT SUCKED... No matter where it Boomed!

Information wants to be free!!!
Learn stuff while you can. Your brain is up fro grabs!

signed "THE POWER!"

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600837)

Actually, this information could have value. Everyone likes to say how hard it is to get good highly-enriched uranium. With the breakup of the former Soviet Union, countries that are either Islamic or turning Islamic, and a black market or sympathetic engineer, you might end up with enough material for a bomb.

Also, the article states where he got a lot of his information - through channels that some Islamic nutcase might not be able to exploit. Think Harold Agnew would tell Ali Muhammed Whatever how to build a weapon?

Inefficient or not, having nice plans all laid out for how to destroy a city with the material you recently acquired makes doing so just that much more possible and likely.

This is not the kind of information that the world needs to set free. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. People can call it freedom of speech all they want, and call this FUD, but the consequences of being wrong in saying this information can't be used to make a weapon number in the millions of lives and billions or trillions of dollars.

How Ali Muhammed works (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601077)

In this book [amazon.com] there's a description on how an Al Qaeda member infiltrated the US Army. He had been a major in the Egyptian army before he joined the terrorist group. He went to the US and married an American girl to get citizenship. He joined the US Army and was rather quickly promoted to sergeant, after all he had been a major before and had good knowledge of military subjects. He then proceeded to send US Army training material to Muslim radicals, those manuals were found in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan after 9/11.

Think Harold Agnew would tell Ali Muhammed Whatever how to build a weapon?

Seriously now, who do you think would find it easier to get classified information? A truck driver or a US Army sergeant?

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (1)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601209)

Why must they be Islamic? What if a Sikh got his hands on one? A Hindu? How about a Buddhist?

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (2, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601031)

that's just the way our society has come to think. in most people's minds (including many regular citizens) the masses are simply too stupid, selfish, immoral, and irrational to be treated as mature & rational adults and allowed to govern themselves. therefore they must be ruled over by others who are more trustworthy and level-headed, which coincidentally are the rich & powerful. and following this kind of thinking, information that can potentially be used for evil must necessarily be suppressed and hidden from the public at all costs.

but the knowledge that allows one to make nuclear weapons is the same knowledge that allows one to develop nuclear power plants. the only way you can suppress "dangerous" knowledge in this case is by suppressing nuclear research and forbidding anyone from teaching/studying nuclear physics. so unless we want to become a totalitarian state that promotes ignorance, a different approach must be found.

rather than throwing people in jail (or threatening to) for possessing "dangerous information," and trying to keep the public in the dark, it would be easier and more desirable just to create an enlightened society where people have no reason to blow each other or themselves up. this isn't something that can be achieved through force or coercion. granted, it's not something that will produce results over night, but it makes much more sense than our current approach.

similarly, changes in our foreign policy and ending the exploitation of other nations (for our own commercial interests) would do far more to increase our nation's security than any amount of military intervention and killing more innocent civilians. rather than abusing our position as the world's only superpower to ignore diplomacy and take whatever we want by force, we could simply be a better global citizen. then we wouldn't have to have a conniption fit every time a developing country builds a nuclear power plant.

Re:FUD, censorship, and freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601441)

Also, people didn't know until recently that they can get away from a nuclear blast unharmed by hiding in a refrigerator.

was it moral .. (-1, Troll)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600327)

Was it moral to drop the atom bomb on a bunch of slanty-eyed-bandy-legged-nips. Bugs Bunny "Nips the Nips" [wordpress.com] . is this more interesting than The web browser is a dead end [slashdot.org]

Re:was it moral .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600915)

A racist twitter? What the fuck is happening to Slashdot?

Funny, then not so much... (3, Insightful)

pjt48108 (321212) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600401)

This is yet another example of things which, eight years ago, might have seemed merely odd, rather than somewhat unsettling.

How quaint the 20th Century already seems.

Re:Funny, then not so much... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601487)

How quaint the 20th Century already seems.

I'm not sure when your from, but this is the 21st century

Not so big a deal (4, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600521)

The Hiroshima bomb was a very simple "gun" design. Plenty of published info on it. It used a navy gun barrel cut down to size, a U235 doughnut target, a polonium initiator, and a U235 projectile. Mighty simple. Any chopper shop could build one, with the exception of getting the Polonium and U235.

This design was abandoned as it had many drawbacks-- it used about 8 times more U235 than absolutely necessary, there was a 7% chance of a fizzle, and there was no way to make it safe.
But it had the advantage that it was dead-simple and guaranteed to work, well 93% of the time.

Now if he made a replica of Fat Man, that would really be something.

Re:Not so big a deal (4, Informative)

Compholio (770966) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600565)

...a U235 doughnut target, a polonium initiator, and a U235 projectile...

If you'd actually read the article then you'd know that he discovered that the projectile was hollow and the target was solid. Personally, I just skimmed it - but it seems like he collected a lot of facts that lead him to believe that people were parroting incorrect information about how the bomb was constructed and he wanted to set the record straight.

Re:Not so big a deal (4, Informative)

RDW (41497) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600627)

'The Hiroshima bomb was a very simple "gun" design. Plenty of published info on it. It used a navy gun barrel cut down to size, a U235 doughnut target, a polonium initiator, and a U235 projectile. Mighty simple.'

A major point of the article is that many of the key (and repeatedly published) 'facts' about the bomb are quite wrong. e.g., according to Coster-Mullen, the projectile was actually a hollow cylinder and the target was a rod rather than a doughnut - 'little boy was female'. Wikipedia is now using his version of the bomb design in the Little Boy article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boy [wikipedia.org]
 

Re:Not so big a deal (2, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600907)

Well a cylinder and rod sound like a really poor design. You want a quick transition to super-criticality, not a slow linear slide. Much more likely they were a conical target and a mating projectile.

  Maybe this guy is trying to disinform certain rogue scientists?

Re:Not so big a deal (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600937)

According to the article, the projectile had a hollow center, and the target was a cylinder that fit inside the hollow center of the projectile. That's the opposite of most descriptions of the weapon.

Intentional misdirection (4, Insightful)

sphealey (2855) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600631)

One thing to keep in mind when you read statement such as "Destroy R. Worlds, former Director of Bomb Design at Los Alamos, said of Joe Amateur's work 'That's very well-done'" is this: reading between the lines of many interviews, articles, and books about and by former weaponeers they give out a lot of misleading, and/or misdirecting, information about how _exactly_ devices are built. They talk openly about the general principles and their scientific and political implications, but when the discussion/interview/chapter turns to the actual details of design, well, the replies turn a bit fuzzy or clever. I suspect that either by explicit training or shared values they give away very little and much of what they say would deliberately lead anyone following down the wrong path.

sPh

Pictures? Plans? (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600869)

Its got some abstract image and a story.. But where is the actual scientific meat?

Oh, thats right, knowledge is forbidden in this country.

Best Line in the Article (5, Insightful)

dd1968 (1174479) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600953)

From the article: "Actually, he said, nothing about the bomb is secret. He smiled and added, 'The secret of the atomic bomb is how easy they are to make.'"

mi8us 5, Troll) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600983)

I burnt out. I too, can be a of OpenBSD. How TCP/IP Stack has We'll be able to Lesson and See... The number can connect to and Michael Smith backward and said

Now THAT's news for nerds (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601515)

Sounds like a great example of the cool projects that us geeks often get carried up in.

Though, I'm wondering why the guy ended up as a *truck driver* by trade...

Most of the time, I come by /. for the comments; this is one of the relatively rare top-quality *articles*

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